I am happy and honoured, in spite of my own unworthiness, to accept the Templeton Prize on behalf of Dr. Radhakrishnan. He is unfortunately prevented by a serious illness from receiving it personally. He has expressed his wish that the money that goes with the Prize should be used in a teaching institution for the furtherance of his work and discussions on this have already been initiated by members of his family. But I should like, before going any further, to thank Mr. Templeton and the Templeton Foundation for having instituted the Prize, the Members of the Jury for awarding this year’s Prize to Dr. Radhakrishnan and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for presenting the Prize to me on behalf of Dr. Radhakrishnan this morning at Buckingham Palace.
World religion is richer today, as the citation of the Award says, because of Dr. Radhakrishnan’s re-discovery of the understanding of God and his special contribution to modem Hinduism. To this may I add my personal tribute that by promoting mutual understanding between the philosophies of the East and West, Dr. Radhakrishnan has rendered inestimable service to the world.
There are few scholars like him who are erudite in both Indian and Western philosophy. Few thinkers are there like him who could grasp the spirit of Eastern and Western thought alike and speak to the East and to the West in a language that each can understand. A philosopher-linguist and a liaison officer between two civilizations, as he has been described, Dr. Radhakrishnan has acted as the bridge between the Orient and the Occident, expounding to the Western world the philosophy and religion of India — a country which has been historically the meeting ground of various races, cultures and faiths and given half of the world’s population much of its religious education.
To Dr. Radhakrishnan, one of the most religious men of this century, religion is universal and recognizes neither national boundaries nor differences in forms of belief. Religion, he says, is ‘neither unworldly nor other-worldly . . . neither a creed nor a code, but an insight into reality’. Men, he points out, are ‘asking for reality in religion; they want to penetrate to the depths of life, tear away the veils that hide the primordial reality and learn what is essential for life, for truth, and righteousness: Religion is not ‘an apologetic for the existing social order; nor is it a mere instruction for social salvation. . . . It is an attempt to discover the ideal possibilities of human life, a quest for emancipation from the immediate compulsions of vain and petty moods.’ Religion is ‘essentially a concern of the inner life. Its roots lie in the spirit of man, deeper than feeling, will or intellect. . . . Its end is to secure spiritual certainty which lifts life above meaningless existence or dull despair,’ to raise us ‘from our momentary meaningless provincialism to the significance and status of the eternal, to transform the chaos and confusion of life.’
Religion to him ‘is not a refuge from the world but an inspiration to act in the world.’ It is ‘an inspiration to grow into the likeness of the Divine,’ because ‘the Divine is both in us and out of us,’ and ‘the Divine in us is the source of perfection of nature.’ Because truth is not the exclusive possession of anyone individual, class, race or religion, Dr. Radhakrishnan in his search for it went far beyond the confines of his country to explore the spirit and fountain-heads of Truth. It was to him a never-ending, life-long search and this is what he has discovered. ‘God does not say, I am Tradition, but he says, 1 am Truth. Truth is greater than its greatest teachers.’ He found support and comfort from those words of Ghandi, ‘The quest for truth is the summum bonum of life.’
Time and again, in his writings and speeches, Dr. Radhakrishnan has emphasized today’s needs for ‘the union of hearts, the communion of minds,’ and for ‘multi-cultural understanding and spiritual fellowship,’ if our social, economic, cultural and political institutions are to be saved. We have, he once says, the resources of ‘science and technology by which we can feed the whole world’ and transmit and communicate ideas all over the world. ‘All that is necessary is a shake-up of human nature, regeneration of human nature.’ To him the ‘achievements of knowledge and power are not enough; acts of spirit and morality are essential.’ ‘We must build all relationships on a basis of understanding fellowship, remembering the con-trolling principle that life on each is meaningless apart from its eternal background’ and that ‘only a humanity that strives after ethical and spiritual ideals can use the great triumphs of scientific knowledge for the true end of civilization.’
If Dr. Radhakrishnan has a vision of a new world, it is a world built by people ‘who have deepened their personalities and integrated their lives; people who have ‘direct acquaintance with spiritual reality’; people who ‘attain their deepest self by losing their selfish ego’; people who can lift their own spirit ‘from the thraldom of material things’; people for whom ‘every morning brings a new day and every pulse beat a new life.’
I wonder what thoughts haunt Dr. Radhakrishnan these days and months as he lies on his sick bed. Would he murmur to himself these words of St Paul: ‘I have fought a good fight. I have run the race’? Or would his soul ring out with this prayer from the Upanishads:
Asato Ma Sadgamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya
Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
(Lead me from the unreal to the real,
Lead me from darkness to light,
Lead me from death to eternal life)
If Dr. Radhakrishnan has any message for us this afternoon, he would probably choose the closing lines of his book My Search for Truth. May I read them to you?
‘Truly religious souls from Buddha and Christ down to lesser mortals, in spite of gross defects of nature, of mind and heart, have striven to lighten the loads of humanity, to strengthen the hopes without which it would have fainted and fallen in its difficult journey. If we are to imitate in some small measure their example, we must help the weak and comfort the unhappy. The perception that casts a shadow over one’s existence is that one is not able to take a larger share of the burden of pain that lies upon the world, with its poor and lowly, with its meek and suffering. It does not matter if one has to live one’s days in silence, if only it is given to them to smile at a child sometimes, to comfort another human soul in a way that will cheer him and put new hope into his heart.’